Case Study: Vivax

Explore this investment 02.09.07

Fast Facts

  • Founded company
  • Financings
  • Supportive During Difficult Times
  • Sourced Strategic Acquisition
  • IPO

In the mid-1990s, Great Hill Partners spent a lot of time and effort looking for cable television investment opportunities in Latin America. Of those we considered, the most compelling — and most challenging — was to form a new business to participate in the cable concession auction planned by the Brazilian government.

For this effort, we recruited Chris Torto, a talented American entrepreneur who was running a division of GTech in Brazil. GHP and Chris formed Vivax, and we created a strategy to apply for concessions clustered in mid-sized cities, primarily in the wealthy state of São Paulo, and waited for the Brazilian government to start the bid process that ultimately took four years.

In the interim, Chris assumed the role of CEO for Voyager.com, another U.S. telecom opportunity GHP managing partner John Hayes led during his prior tenure at M/C Partners. Under Chris’s guidance, Voyager consummated more than 25 acquisitions, went public, and was sold to a larger telecom operator.

Eventually, Vivax successfully won concessions for 1.6 million homes and began operations in 2000. We led three rounds of financing that were increasingly difficult to attain in the face of the telecom downturn and Brazilian currency devaluation. Chris efficiently managed network construction and implemented cost-effective customer acquisition programs.

In the early days, the company faced some setbacks. In recalling these difficult times, Chris commented, “I had the operation as lean as possible, but we were only a few years old, and not big enough to achieve scale. I knew one of my competitors was for sale, but it was a tough deal. The target was literally in bankruptcy, and we had our fair share of issues to contend with. Despite the complexities, GHP remained steadfast in their support. They helped me negotiate and finance the deal, which transformed the company into one of the industry leaders.

With this larger platform, Chris was able to accelerate the growth trajectory, which led to a successful IPO in Brazil in 2006 and subsequent sale to a strategic buyer.